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Perdido Groundwater Contamination


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Ground water treatment system building on site.

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Site Summary Profile

EPA ID: ALD980728703
Location: Perdido, Baldwin County, AL
Lat/Long: 31.012500, -087.62500
Congressional District:1
NPL Status: Proposed: 12/30/82; Final: 09/08/83
Affected Media: Ground water
Cleanup Status: Construction complete – physical cleanup activities have been completed
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Ground water Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: In continued use (residential and commercial)
Site Manager: James Hou (hou.james@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The Perdido Groundwater Contamination site includes the area where a train derailment took place in 1965. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1983 because of contaminated ground water resulting from chemicals spilled during the derailment. EPA, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the site’s potentially responsible party (PRP) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. Residents and businesses now use the public water system for drinking purposes. Treatment has significantly reduced ground water contamination over the past several years. By monitoring the remaining ground water contamination and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA, ADEM and the site’s PRP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

Site Location and Background

The 110-acre site is located near the intersection of Highways (County Roads) 47 and 61 in Perdido, Alabama, a small town 42 miles northeast of Mobile. Forested areas and residential and commercial development surround the site. The Perdido Elementary and Middle School is located immediately southeast of the site.

In 1965, a train derailment spilled benzene into drainage ditches along Highway 61. Benzene is a common industrial chemical. Because of the spill, an unknown amount of benzene soaked into area ground water. At the time, local residents used ground water as a source of drinking water.

In 1981, the Alabama Department of Public Health (DPH) documented reports of odor problems in residents’ drinking water wells. DPH sampled wells in 1982 and found benzene contamination. In 1983, Baldwin County’s Health Officer recommended that people within one mile of the derailment stop use of their well water for drinking or bathing. This included approximately 250 residents and 300 students at the nearby school. The U.S. National Guard provided two water tanks at a central location and affected residents brought water from the tanks to their homes. At the suggestion of EPA, PRP Seaboard System Railroad (now CSX Transportation) voluntarily provided funds for the construction of a water line extending six miles from the nearby Town of Atmore. The water line connected about 150 Perdido homes within one mile of the derailment to the public water system. The PRP completed the water line in 1983. Also in 1983, EPA listed the site on the NPL.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations identified contamination in ground water that could potentially harm people in the area. The ground water contamination resulted from the train derailment. The contaminant of concern identified was benzene.

The water line that connects area homes to the public water system prevents residents from ingesting or contacting the ground water contamination. In 2008, North Baldwin Utilities took over as the daily water supplier for Perdido residents. It uses a pipeline to provide water to Perdido residents. North Baldwin Utilities uses the public water connection between the towns of Perdido and Atmore for emergency purposes only. Over the past several years, the site’s ground water contamination levels have decreased significantly. Since early 2009, all ground water samples show benzene levels below the federal Safe Drinking Water Act standard for benzene.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The PRP leads site investigation and cleanup activities, with oversight provided by EPA and ADEM.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 1990, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. The plan included the following activities:

In 1993, EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences allowing the discharge of treated ground water into nearby Perdido Creek as needed. In 1998 and 1999, the PRP installed biosparge wells, which use oxygen to break down contaminated ground water.

Summaries of selected cleanup approaches are available online in site RODs and Five-Year Reviews.

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Cleanup Progress

The site’s ground water pump-and-treat system ran between 1992 and 2006. In 1999, the site PRP began using biosparge wells to treat ground water. Use of some of these wells is ongoing. The biosparge wells have greatly helped the cleanup of the site’s ground water contamination. The site PRP monitors the wells and samples the ground water regularly.

The site’s fourth Five-Year Review, completed in 2011, found that the ground water treatment system and monitoring are working as expected. Benzene levels are below the cleanup level goal.

To date, the site PRP has shut down 28 of the site’s 33 monitoring wells; benzene levels have been below the cleanup level goal for five consecutive years. The PRP continues to monitor the remaining five wells; benzene levels in these wells have not been above the cleanup level goal since early 2009.

Summaries of site cleanup activities are also available in Five-Year Reviews online.

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Enforcement Activities

EPA negotiated legal agreements with the site PRP to investigate and clean up the site. The PRP continues to fund site monitoring and oversight costs.

The ROD and Five-Year Reviews online provide information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

EPA has worked with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to ensure that the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts have included public notices and information meetings.

In fall 2009, EPA held a public meeting to update the community on cleanup progress at the site, including the shutdown of 28 monitoring wells. Contaminant levels in these wells had met the cleanup level goal for benzene for five consecutive years.

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Future Work

The PRP will continue sampling the site’s five remaining monitoring wells. If samples from these wells meet the cleanup goal for benzene for five consecutive years, the PRP will shut down the wells and EPA will delete the site from the NPL.

EPA completed the last Five-Year Review in 2011 and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2016.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile Page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

Bay Minette Public Library
119 West 2nd St.
Bay Minette, AL 36507

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